A new visitor is twice as likely to return to a website if the navigation is good. A good visitor experience includes:
- Fast load speed for every page on the site. Remember the majority of Internet traffic is now coming from smartphones.
- A bar that shows related posts or related pages for content that the visitor is looking for so they can easily navigate to other relevant content.
- No broken links. Use a 404 page that lets visitors find good content on the site or a 301 redirect if you need to remove a page.
- Try to have no more than 5 top-level navigation items (on the navigation bar) and only a few menu dropdowns (these should have visual cues).
- A “Contact Us,” “About Us” and other relevant pages to help return visitors learn more about the company.
- No auto-play videos – the last thing you want is to have a spike in bounce rates because of people arriving and immediately leaving because they were surprised with a video that started playing out of the blue while they’re in a quiet environment.
- Include social share buttons so visitors can like and share your content without leaving your site.
Mobile friendliness is also a must for returning visitors. A lot of your visitors might have found your website on their desktop and now are going to be looking at it on their mobile devices. Your visitors will expect your site to load on their mobile devices just as quickly as it did on their desktop.
Steps to complete this task
Make sure your website is blazing fast. Use a website speed checker like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to determine any factors that are slowing down your website. They will not only tell you the issues with your mobile and desktop site but also show you how to fix it. Visitors will not want to return to a site with slow loading times. Additionally, slow websites will be ranked lower in search engines and get less traffic.
Only use needed top-level navigation items (such as your About Us, Contact Us, and Products/Services) — in fact, try to use no more than 5 items in your top-level navigation items. Fewer items are better for search engines. The order of your navigation is also important. The items at the beginning and the end are most effective, because this is where attention and retention are highest. Remember to first give visitors what they want, then they might give you what you want. Dropdowns can be great for your visitors, but they can also be bad for search engines. Dropdown menus can be difficult for search engines to crawl, which is a big downfall. If you need dropdowns from your navigation menu, keep it simple. If your navigation menu uses dropdowns, give your visitors a visual cue — such as an arrow or a checkmark.
Always check the health of your links. Make sure all your links are correct and working.
Be familiar. Most users have become familiar with having the main navigation be at the top (or left side) of a page, a logo at the top left (or center), a clickable logo so it always brings a visitor back to the homepage, and having links change color/appearance when you hover over them.
- Leave comments on blogs relative to your business or industry to get more backlinks.
- Publish guest blog posts and press releases.
- Get links from lists of resources and online directories.
- Engage in other bloggers’ content.
- Generate more traffic by posting on website forums.
- Join blog aggregating sites.
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